Do People Still Use Travel Guidebooks?

Do People Still Use Travel Guidebooks?

It’s the age of smartphones and e-readers

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It’s the age of smartphones and e-readers: the compact, digital way to search, store and read vast amounts of information.

Guide books are no longer part of everyone's essential packing items list. You no longer need a guide book the size of a dictionary with you in order to find the best hotels around the world when you have Google and Trip Advisor at your fingertips.

So do people still use guidebooks on their travels? Or will they slowly go extinct, left to languish on bookshelves everywhere,
dog-eared and dusty?


Guide book publishers are certainly finding it’s now more profitable to stop printing books on paper, instead moving towards digital publishing and e-books.

After Google bought popular guide book publisher Frommer’s, it almost instantly announced plans to kill off the print editions.

The BBC announced plans to sell guidebook juggernaut Lonely Planet for a fraction of its purchase cost.

A deadly combination of a decline in leisure travel during the recession plus the rise in smartphone usage triggered the closure of bookstores (such as Borders) and fewer book sales.

By the end of 2012, sales of printed guidebooks had fallen by 40% since 2005 in the UK and the US. This graph as it appears on paints a telling picture.

Lonely Planet is still leading the charge in the travel guidebook industry, but are now putting more effort into their digital publishing efforts and are laying off staff.

Other guide book companies struggled to build a digital following to support or replace their print market as sales dwindled.

However, the value of using a travel guide - as opposed to reviews left on Trip Advisor or Expedia - is in the expertise.

Travel guide writers make their living from visiting and commenting on an eclectic array of hotels, restaurants, attractions and experiences.

Guidebooks hold a sense of authority and trustworthiness that is hard to find online in all the forum posts and poorly written rants from frustrated travellers.

So while print sales may be in decline, it’s still worth reading what the big publishers have to offer in order to seek out the best experiences overseas.

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